Conroy's winning streak stretches to nine

Invercargill driver Jamie Conroy maintained his winning sequence in the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship at Timaru this weekend. Conroy has now won nine races in a row and has yet to be beaten in the championship.

At Timaru he chalked up his second successive perfect weekend, taking pole position in qualifying and then going on to win all three races, leading every lap of the weekend.

As he did at Teretonga last week Conroy set the pace in his Mygale during qualifying with a fastest lap .375 of a second ahead of American Andrew Hobbs, a grandson of racing legend David Hobbs, while Conroy's main championship rival, Michael Collins of Christchurch, could only manage fourth.

Conroy made the best start in the opening race on Saturday afternoon immediately taking the lead from Hobbs.

A safety car period after three laps closed the field up but at the restart the 22- year-old accelerated away to win his seventh straight race in the championship by 1.309 seconds from Collins who had worked his way up to second.

Conroy again made a good start to yesterday morning's race and led away from Hobbs with Collins in third. Again the safety car was required for a stricken car mid race, bunching the field up again.

The restart came with just two laps to go and again Conroy blasted away and crossed the line ahead of Collins who got through to second on the final lap with Hobbs third.

In the final race yesterday Conroy again took the lead off the line and was never headed. A clear run without any interruptions saw him extend his lead to almost 5 seconds at the chequered flag with Collins and Hobbs in his wake.

"I'm super proud of my team," said Jamie as he prepared to leave the circuit yesterday.

"The car they keep giving me is just so consistent. It makes it a whole lot easier. I kept concentrating on making good starts and nailing that first lap, trying to break the draft but in the first two races the safety car bunched the field up again."

The weekend helped the Southlander to extend his New Zealand Formula Ford Championship lead while he has now closed to within two points of Collins in the Ace Hire South Island Formula Ford Championship.

The next round of the New Zealand Championship takes place at Hampton Downs in north Waikato over the weekend of February 1 and 2.

It was another strong showing for Invercargill brothers Damon and Brendon Leitch in the second round of the Toyota Racing Series at Timaru.

Damon ran strongly for two fourth placings before a seventh in the final race of the round while younger brother Brendon, in just his second weekend in the series, secured two more top 10 results after snaring his first last weekend at Teretonga.

Competition was extremely fierce with many incidents and several penalties dished out to various drivers as the carnage mounted.

While the Leitch brothers and Jamie Conroy were competing in the Toyota Racing Series and the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship at Timaru, several other Southlanders were in action.

In the TL Class of the NZV8 Touring Car category Grant Molloy of Invercargill still sits second in the championship. Molloy finished fifth in the opening race before leading yesterday morning's race before eventually finishing third.

A broken sway bar rose joint hampered him in the finale leaving him in a dice with fellow Southlander Liam MacDonald which gave him ninth place.

Sixteen-year-old Liam MacDonald of Invercargill finished sixth in the opening race and after running sixth initially yesterday dropped to eighth after sustaining some damage. Nathan Pilcher of Winton, in his older Commodore, also ran with the class finishing 10th, ninth and 11th in the three races.

Steve Heffernan won Class 2 of the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship and leads that championship as well as Class 2 in the South lsland Formula Ford Championship.

James Dicey of Cromwell, a Southland Sports Car Club member, took no part in qualifying and did not start Saturday's South Island Formula Ford Championship race but after yesterday's racing he sits 10th in his class.

In the New Zealand Sports Sedan Challenge Pierre Neame of Winton (Ford Mustang) scored a third and a second in the first two races of the weekend before retiring from the third.

Paul Muir of Gore qualified third fastest for the Nitto Tyres NZ Six class but took no further part in the weekend.

The Southland Times